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Film

Booksmart made me miss high school (seriously)

Caitlin Rance

Before you say it, yes I know, if I was actually transported back in time i’d probably complain.

I graduated high school four years ago which I knowwwwww makes me so weird for missing high school!! But TBH, my high school experience was not a typical one, which makes the occasional missing part not totally controversial. If we went to the same school you know what I’m talking about.

I always look back on my high school years fondly. Of course, I forget the times when I felt so insecure I wanted to melt into the floor 5 minutes before a friend was picking me up for a party, or the awkwardness I felt when I was constantly third wheeling with friends and their boyfriends. But what I do try to remember are the moments in art history or studio when all that mattered in the world was art! Or the time I sat in the parking lot and listened to Pure Heroine from start to finish during my free period when it was released. Oh and also the time my friend jokingly nominated me for homecoming queen and I almost won. High school is weird and pretty much nothing like the movies. Except for some reason, the movies got it pretty right this time. Booksmart was definitely like high school. Or, at least, my high school.

I saw Booksmart with my middle-school/high school bestfriend, which honestly seems fitting for this film. I brought the snacks, which consisted of cheese cracker sandwiches from Trader Joes and peanut butter cups—also from Trader Joes. The theater wasn’t full, so we ended up moving down a row to get a better view. Sort of like if we were at the opera or perhaps the ballet, and stole the good seats because a couple who actually paid for those seats was still perusing the snack bar.

Throughout the entirety of the film, my friend and I kept sharing comments about different scenes, pointing out which characters reminded us the most of our high school peers and finding it hard to contain our laughter because the accuracy was just…too on point. If there’s one thing that’s for certain, Booksmart is hilarious. Like, laugh out loud hilarious. There’s one specific scene I keep acting out which involves an Alanis Morissette song and like, a little bit of tongue. If you know, you know.

I’m a sucker for coming-of-age films, especiallyyyyyy if they have a pool scene—Booksmart does for all my pool scene people out there—and Olivia Wilde just truly hit the nail on the head with this one folks.

There’s been a lot of chatter of how disappointing the box office performance was for Booksmart, which makes me feel so bummed out because this movie has not only been one of my favorites of 2019, but also a film that, if I had seen at 18, would have probably made me feel so comfortable in my skin and yet invigorated to step out and into the world. I’m 22 so I don’t know if coming-of-age still applies to me, although I hope it does because I very much still feel like I’m in a coming-of-age phase of my life (but then again, aren’t we all? constantly? coming? of? age?)But regardless, it still made me want to work harder to feel comfortable in my own skin and be proud of the things I love and want to do.

For those who have yet to see Booksmart, or just haven’t heard of it, Booksmart is a coming-of-age comedy directed by Olivia Wilde starring my ultimate girl-crushes, Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever. The film follows these two as they embark on their final moments of high school before going off to their separate colleges. The crux of the story focuses on the fact that both girls have worked their asses off throughout high school in order to secure places at top colleges: Columbia and Yale. However, while doing this, their identities in school were pretty much cemented as lame try-hards who never did anything outside of school. This isn’t upsetting to them, because one look around the school and both girls have agreed that their peers are going nowhere in life. Except, almost all of them are. When it’s quickly revealed that all their peers fucked around in school, while also maintaining good enough grades to also land themselves at top schools, emotional breakdowns ensue.

So, in a last-ditch effort to change how their high school chapter ends, both girls decide to go to a party thrown by one of the popular guys in school. Obviously, getting there isn’t as easy as they expect and the film basically takes you on that rollercoaster of a night.

Final thoughts:

While i couldn’t fully relate to both girls specific storyline when it came to school—my social life was oddly full, though I was definitely a B student—I did relate to the level of feeling misunderstood and unable to rewrite your character in your own book. And while I believe this feeling of being misunderstood is something a lot of us go through, regardless if you were the popular kid in school or not, the way Olivia Wilde navigates through those feelings resonated so personally with me. When I left the theater, it sort of felt like being able to close the chapter of a book and move on, even if my character appears one way in everyone elses book.

Also, the soundtrack was amazing.

If you havent seen Booksmart, please don’t wait for it to appear on some streaming platform. Please go see it in a theater and support an indie film and a female director!

You can watch the trailer here: